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Lawyers who’ve got a date at home tonight with their laptops or case files can take comfort in one fact: You have plenty of company. A national survey of lawyers found that most of them — 87 percent — take work home with them. Attorneys toil at home an average of nine nights per month, though 13% say they never work from home. On the other end of the spectrum, 7.5 percent of those surveyed have “homework” at least 25 evenings each month, and another 10.5 percent work from home 20 to 24 nights per month. Those findings come as no surprise to lawyers across the country, who blame the double whammy of technology and heavy caseloads. As their caseloads have grown, so has their ability to keep plugging away at it 24/7, courtesy of wireless handheld devices and firm network systems that allow remote access. The survey, commissioned by the staffing service Robert Half Legal, questioned 200 lawyers at some of the largest law firms and corporations in the U.S. and Canada. Attorneys needed at least three years of experience to be included in the survey. The surveys took place in February 2004, but results were just released. The Menlo Park-based company is a division of the staffing agency Robert Half International Inc. Rick Liebman works from his Portland, Ore., home about 10 nights a month. “The reason I’m afflicted with that disease [working at night] is because my specialty is representing management in labor disputes,” said Liebman, a founding partner at Barran Liebman. He’ll spend about an hour reviewing paperwork the night before he attends a bargaining session or arbitration. Liebman often logs 10 to 12 hours of work on weekends. He’s trying to squeeze a year of work into 10 months so he and his wife can travel internationally for eight weeks each year. Working at home gives Jill Rosenberg the interruption-free time she needs to concentrate on writing or business development plans. “During the day, I’m on the phone a lot and in meetings,” said Rosenberg, a partner in the labor and employment law section at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s New York office. “It’s hard to get blocks of quiet time. It’s better to do at night or on the weekends.” Rosenberg estimates she spends two nights each week writing, reading and marking up documents, sending e-mail and handling other work-related tasks. Putting in her hours outside the traditional workday gives her the freedom to participate in other activities, including civic and charitable work. But there are plenty of attorneys who refuse to bring work home. Sylvia Walbolt has been drawing that line for the 41 years she’s practiced law. “I suspect I’m a real anachronism, but I don’t do it,” said Walbolt, chairwoman of the board of directors for Carlton Fields’ Tampa, Fla., office. “Very early on, I said there has to be a demarcation between family and work. I may stay late at the office, but once I leave,” that’s it. She’s at her desk by 6 a.m. and leaves at 6 p.m., using the early evening hours to wrap up administrative tasks before heading home — without a briefcase. June D. Bell is a reporter with The National Law Journal, a Recorder affiliate based in New York City.

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